RENO, Nev. — This one will hurt a while.
Oregon State’s valiant comeback attempt fell short when Jordan Choukair missed a 34-yard field goal wide left as time expired and the Beavers lost a 37-35 heart-breaker to Nevada on Saturday.
The Beavers (1-2) were oh so close to ending their road losing streak that has now reached 21 games.
That Oregon State was able to make it a game is a testament to a renewed resilience under first-year coach Jonathan Smith.
"There is a fight in this group," Smith said in his postgame radio interview. "I like the effort of this group and the mentality continuing to grow. We’ve got to get over the hump."
After quarterback Connor Blount was sacked and fumbled, and Nevada returned it 48 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter, the Beavers were down 30-7 and had yet to stop the Wolf Pack offense.
But instead of going through the motions, the Beavers continued to fight on both sides of the ball.
After the Blount fumble, Jake Luton came on to spark the offense. The senior signal caller led the Beavers on two scoring drives to close out the half.
Luton’s pooch punt pinned Nevada at its own 3 and the defense forced a three-and-out. Luton hit Kolby Taylor for 26 yards to the 2 and Jermar Jefferson scored from there to get the Beavers within 30-14 with 4:12 left in the half.
The defense forced another three-and-out and the Beavers took over at their own 13 after a long punt rolled dead there.
Oregon State went 87 yards in 14 plays and Luton hit Isaiah Hodgins in the back corner of the end zone to get within 30-21 at the half.
After giving up 182 yards in the first quarter, the Beavers’ defense limited the Wolf Pack to 27 total yards in the second, including minus-1 yard on the ground.
Luton was 10-for-15 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown. Blount was 6 for 9 for 64 yards and a TD before being replaced.
Neither offense could get going in the third quarter as the teams traded punts.
Nevada had 22 total yards and the Beavers 117 in the third, with 51 coming on the last play of the period when Luton hit Hodgins to the Nevada 20.
The drive ended, however, when Nevada's Berdale Robbins came up with an interception at the 8.
The defense came up with a stop and Jesiah Irish set the Beavers up with a 15-yard punt return to the Nevada 42.
Lutron hit Taylor for 28 yards and then found Hodgins for eight yards to the 1 before Jefferson dove across for the score to make it 30-28 with 11:40 left.
Nevada’s offense came to life as the Wolf Pack went 75 yards in six plays with Kelton Moore scoring form a yard out to make it 37-28.
Oregon State looked to close the gap but Choukair missed a 49-yard field goal attempt with 8:11 left.
True freshman John McCartan came up with his first career interception to give the Beavers life.
Blount came on for an injured Luton and hit Isaiah Smalls for 28 yards before and Kase Rogers scored from the one to make it 37-35 with 4:40 to play.
The defense again got a stop to give the Beavers one last chance.
Oregon State converted two fourth-downs, including a 26-yard pass from Blount to Hodgins to the 29. Two Jefferson runs and a penalty helped put the Beavers in position to kick the potential winning field goal.
Luton finished 23-for-35 passing for 284 yards with a touchdown and interception, while Blount was 12-for-20 passing for 175 yards and also had a touchdown and interception.
"Conor had a couple early things that we felt like Jake could give us a chance and he did, he came in and battled, did some good things," Smith said. "Took the thing on the ankle and so, well, Conor was back in and he proved he could move the ball."
Hodgins finished a career game with 14 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns and Timmy Hernandez added 11 catches for 116 yards.
"Those guys did a good job and they were needed," Smith said. "... Those guys came to play. Hernandez is playing the sideline, Hodgins breaks a tackle and extends the play another 30 yards. They were awesome tonight."
Jefferson had a second-straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 106 yards on 25 carries and two more touchdowns.
Ty Gangi completed 17 of 35 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
McLane Mannix had five catches for 85 yards and Toa Taua led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 81 yards and a score.
It was all Nevada the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Wolf Pack took the opening kickoff 75 yards in eight plays with Taua capping the drive with a 7-yard score three minutes into the game.
The Beavers countered with a 75-yard drive of their own, as Blount found Hodgins from 5 yards out for the tying touchdown. Blount was 5 for 6 for 62 yards on the drive.
The Wolf Pack settled for a 26-yard field goal on their next drive. Nevada chewed up 5:58 off the clock in going 66 yards on 14 plays for the 10-7 lead with 2:17 left.
After Blount tossed an interception, the Wolf Pack made the Beavers pay as Gangi hit Mannix from 24 yards out to give Nevada a 16-7 lead after the first quarter.
Nevada took over at the 29 after forcing a punt with Gangi flipping the ball to Jaxson Kincaide for a 9-yard score and 23-7 lead.
It went from bad to worse on the next drive. After recovering the onside kick, the Beavers moved to the 33 before Blount was sacked, fumbled and Malik Reed picked it up and returned it 48 yards for a 30-7 lead with 10:18 left in the half.
After allowing 182 total yards in the first quarter, the Oregon State defense limited Nevada to 175 the last three quarters.
"I thought our defense did a phenomenal job of getting into a rhythm, giving us a chance in this ball game," Smith said.
Oregon State outgained Nevada 540-357 but it was not enough to come away with a win.